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Doodlecat's Homepage

Picture of Doodle - a 
black cat

Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

I would love to be able to say that Doodlecat is all my own work, but it isn’t. Much of the outdoors content is courtesy of the splendid people who participate in the annual TGO Challenge (there is a section entirely devoted to this unique event) and many others.

To help in tracking down that elusive morsel on Doodlecat, the search facility under the title bar above is tailored to help you find it, either on this home page (Doodlecat's Blog) all the rest of the site (Main Site) or – if all else fails - the internet!

So have a rummage around the old cat basket and enjoy your time with us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clueless!

Miss W doing a crossword just asked the best question I've heard for ages, 

"How do you spell illiterate?"

First my sides ached ... now my head as I have retreated upstairs, beaten with a rolled up newspaper 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hedgerow foraging

We went to see how the sloes and blackberries are getting on today. Very well it seems. Our pear trees are laden with fruit, so very soon poached pears and blackberry coulis will be stacked in the freezer. And the sloes? Just waiting for a supermarket bargain on litres of gin.

Blackberries
Blackberries

Sloes in hedgerow
Suffolk Sloes

Later this week we hope to gather some hazelnuts that I spotted a while ago. They should be ready now and will be added to the Christmas cake ingredients. A walk along an old railway line discovered a superb apple tree growing right alongside the old trackbed. The line has been closed for fifty years, so this is probably the product of a discarded apple core from one of the last passengers. And they are delicious (really delicious, not Golden Delicious!).

Summer is all very well, but autumn is the best time of year for me. Cool, still light enough, and full of treats for the forager. Last year's Sloe gin has matured nicely and awaits the onset of suitably nippy weather for its inclusion in the hip flask - roll on the first frost!

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Outdoor Stereotypes No. 3

The Walking Club

cartoon picture of walking club


There seem to be more cars than usual (usually there are none) in your favourite and secret lay-by. By the time you have put on your boots and hefted your sack onto your back ten more have arrived, disgorging their cargo of middle aged  couples, the odd dog and a multitude of walking poles, maps, compasses, flasks and water bottles. The chatter, the pointing, the donning of gaiters bring home the terrible truth – a walking club has chosen ‘your’ hills as this Sunday's objective.

Some are ready to go and pacing up and down looking pointedly at their watches, others are shouting into mobile phones “well, where exactly are you, then?” as stragglers make their way to the assembly point. With any luck you can get a fifteen minute start and still have a peaceful day out. You set off rather more briskly than you would normally wish. Your “Good Mornings” are ignored by the self-absorbed crowd who have now stopped telephoning and moved on to the “So, it’s just Marjorie then!” stage.

Fifteen minutes later you look back and see that the group has started to move in your direction. After 200 yards or so it stops. A huddle develops. Maps are produced. Fingers are pointed and GPS consulted. There is clearly some dispute. The group divides, amoeba-like, as a smaller huddle breaks off and starts its own discussion with fingers pointing a few degrees off those of the main body. They both start to move on diverging courses, soon losing sight of one another. Despite yourself you begin to observe the progress of the two rival factions.

It soon becomes obvious that the smaller breakaway group have made the error, and they are walking at a cracking pace to rejoin the correct path a face-saving distance ahead of the unseen peleton. The tactic fails. They converge simultaneously and halt in another flurry of maps and recrimination, but this time the fingers are pointing along the correct path, and towards your eyrie – mmm, time to get a move on.

But there’s no need to rush. With stops occasioned by Majorie’s ‘old trouble’ and Eric’s dodgy prostate the group proceeds in fits and starts gradually extending into a long ragged crocodile until it finally stops altogether to regroup for elevenses … at around 9.30.
You wander on up the hill, enjoying the day. The sights and sounds of nature unspoiled lift your spirits. Curlews cry, skylarks sing and all is right with your world. By lunchtime you have found a nice little drystone shelter and are enjoying a post-prandial snooze. Then something wakes you with a start. The birds have fallen silent … a new chorus fills your ears,

“So I said to ‘er, I said, Ooooh, you little …”
“And did you see that Tracey Barlow on Corrie last night.”
“Of course, I always take the A66 to Brough, but then, mind, I turn off via…”

There’s no escape. You are surrounded by the chattering camaraderie of the “Striders Club”. You nod politely to Marjorie as she introduces herself and chatters alongside you.

“Hello, I’m the club secretary. We could do with some new blood – you should join us, fit young man like you. We’re out every weekend – always somewhere different.”

You ask Marjorie for the season’s itinerary, telling her that it will be invaluable in planning your future walks. She hands you a list of dates and venues. “We’ll see you soon, then?”

You smile your most benevolent smile.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Interlude

There will be a brief hiatus in the 'Outdoor Stereotypes' series as I set off tomorrow for a little trot across Snowdonia. On my return, however, we have the ... well ...  you'll just have to wait and see!